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New York 3020-a hearing brings attention to changes in the law

Generally, the law is designed to help teachers keep their jobs. In most cases, educators in New York can only be fired with “just cause.” A recent case in New York is providing an example of how the new provisions of an education law that governs the termination of tenured teachers in New York works. These changes were implemented in April of 2012.

More on the current case

The changes likely played a key role in the current dispute. In the case, an elementary school principle was on paid administrative leave for over four years. According to a recent report in a local paper, the Olean Times Herald, the reasons for the principal’s leave were not disclosed by the district.

After a long battle with the district, including a 3020-a hearing that held in favor of the educator, the principal is returning to work. He is quoted by the paper as looking forward to rejoining his staff, which has showed "tremendous support" during his leave.

More on changes to 3020-a hearings in New York

Legislators in New York made changes to the 3020-a hearing process in an attempt to address the "spiraling costs and extraordinary length of time to conduct hearings," according to a memo released by the New York State Education Department. Key changes include:

  • 125 days to enter evidence. This change was made in an attempt to encourage all sides of a disagreement to work expeditiously towards a resolution. Evidence that falls outside of this time period can only be admitted if it fits into an “extraordinary circumstance.”
  • Use of an arbitrator. A variety of changes were implemented regarding the use of an arbitrator. If parties cannot agree, an arbitrator is chosen by the education department. The department also establishes maximum rates and hours for the arbitration and can exclude the use of certain arbitrators that have a history of failing to commence a hearing in a timely manner.
  • One year limitation on reimbursement claims. Some fees tied to a 3020-a hearing are reimbursable. A time limitation was added to the reimbursement requests in an effort to both help encourage timely repayment of claims and help the production of accurate budgets.

These are just some of the more recent changes that impact 3020-a hearings. Critics of the above case argue that the 125 day limitation on evidence contributed to the hearing officer finding in favor of the educator.

Navigating through these and other changes can be difficult. As a result, educators who find themselves in the position to defend their jobs at a 3020-a hearing should contact an experienced New York education attorney. This legal professional can help better ensure all evidence is carefully examined and help put together a strategy to increase your odds of a successful outcome.

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